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April 21, 2020

10 Things I know about … COVID-19 scams

10) Pandemic panic: Criminals thrive during a crisis, knowing people under stress and distraction are more prone to readily click a text or email link without thought to its legitimacy. As such, COVID-19-related phishing attacks grew 600% in the first quarter.

Michelle Drolet

9) FTC Warnings: The Federal Trade Commission just reported $12 million in coronavirus scams calling it the tip of the iceberg and warning of low-hanging fruit brought on by at-home workers and shadow IT operations i.e., when employees run amuck with their own apps, systems and devices.

8) Robocallers purporting to offer free COVID-19 test kits, face masks, sanitizer and even fake cures, as a way to collect your personal and health insurance information, asking for payment over the phone.

7) Fake IDs: Text message scams impersonating the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services informs recipients they must take a mandatory online COVID-19 test.

6) Freed money: Scammers using federal stimulus checks as a ruse to make people verify their personal information or bank account details in order to release the funds.

5) Charity exploit: Phone calls and texts impersonating the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control falsely making donation requests or promising safety measures for protecting against coronavirus.

4) Leaky indeed: Consumers receiving robocalls from HVAC duct cleaners promising to protect your home, office, and family from the deadly coronavirus.

3) Job/loan scams: Beware of sudden COVID-19-themed work-from-home opportunities, alleged student loan forgiveness or repayment plans, U.S. Small Business Administration loans, online listing verification, and debt consolidation offers.

2) Connectivity scare: Internet routers used from home are being targeted by hijacking attacks redirecting users to fake COVID-19 resources; some Android users experience screen locking, forcing users to reset passwords.

1) Getting buy-in: Convince senior managers to take threats seriously: Conduct war games, asking the CEO to respond in real-time to worse-case scenarios proposed by cybersecurity experts.

Michelle Drolet is CEO of Towerwall, a woman-owned, independent cybersecurity services provider based in Framingham. You may reach her at

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